The column ‘Let’s talk about Archaeology’ continues with an exceptional discovery occurred recently.
The mission of the University of Sassari, with the co-financing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and directed by Prof. Alessandro Teatini, studies the Roman site of Ibida on the basis of an agreement between the University of Sassari and the Tulcea Eco-Museum Research Institute (ICEM). In addition to the research activities, a Summer School for Romanian, Italian and other nationality students of archeology take place there. More information about the mission can be found in the previous news.
For the column Let’s talk about Archaeology, Alessandro Teatini updates us on the ongoing research and on an exceptional discovery that took place recently.
The early Christian basilica built outside the walls
The activities for the realization of the total orthophotographic coverage of the town of Ibida brought to take thousands of high definition zenith photographs with the use of APR (remotely piloted aircraft – drone). During these activities, aerial photographs revealed in a meadow north of the town, about 60 meters from the walls, a light trace in the grass that drew the very clear profile of a rectangular building with an apse to the east and a narthex (a room at the entrance) to the west. The excavation of this building was assigned to the Italian mission, sure in cooperation with the Romanian researchers and students, so that between 2019 and 2021 the perimeter of an early Christian basilica built extra muros (outside the walls) in the cemetery area was fully unearthed, precisely at the beginning of the large necropolis which, from this area, extends for over a kilometer into the valley that opens towards the west.
The structure is oriented exactly east-west and with an apse to the east: the plan has a single nave with a narthex to the west and reaches a total length of 19.20 meters, with a width of 8.45 meters. The most important data was the possibility of identifying an earlier building phase, clearly visible in the presence of a definitely less large perimeter wall within the main plan, which draws a simple hall without a narthex. The only data we currently have on the basilica in the first phase derives from the investigation in the apse sector, which made it possible to unearth the floor of the presbytery inside the oldest apse, still intact and built with large square bricks.
At the moment we do not have any information on the time of construction of the first basilica, but the recovered finds allow us to date the second phase of the building: the largest basilica was erected during the sixth century, while its destruction can be linked to the period of the Avaric-Slavic raids in the last twenty-five years of the sixth century. The extra muros basilica is an absolutely exceptional discovery, it is currently the most important building unearthed on the site; it is in fact with great likelihood one of the few early Christian basilicas built in a cemetery area known at the time throughout Romania: so far only four other examples were known, all in this region of Dobrogea.